The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority is set to ban "gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence" with the rule coming in to effect from June 2019.
According to Ella Smillie of the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), harmful gender stereotypes in advertisements "contribute to how people see themselves and their role in society".
She also cited many real-world harms that result from gender inequality including the gender pay gap, low rates of women in STEM and men struggling with mental health issues.
Shahriar Coupal, Director of the Committees of Advertising Practice, said “Harmful gender stereotypes have no place in UK advertisements. Nearly all advertisers know this, but for those that don’t, our new rule calls time on stereotypes that hold back people and society.”
Partly prompted by Protein World’s ‘beach body ready’ adverts in 2015, under the new framework, companies in the UK will no longer be allowed to create promotional material depicting people engaged in gender stereotypical activities. The same will apply for advertisements that show people unable to successfully complete a task because of their gender.
The new rules cover traditional advertising (TV, Magazines, Newspapers, Leaflets, Cinema) and online advertising (Websites, Search, Social Media). They were developed after discussions with advertisers and were approved by the Committee of Advertising Practice, the ASA’s sister organization.
The CAP has published a guide to help advertisers stick to the new rule and provided examples of scenarios that are likely to be problematic. For example: